Seeking Old Paths – Forrest D. Moyer

Forrest D. Moyer

Seeking the Old Standard of Authority

If we are to seek the “old paths”, it is necessary that we seek the old standard of authority—that is the standard by which the religion of Jesus Christ existed in the first century. When Campbell was seeking the old paths and trying to return to God’s way he said:

Our desire, therefore, for ourselves and our brethren would be, that, rejecting human opinions and the inventions of men as of any authority, or as having any place in the Church of God, we might forever cease from further contentions about such things; returning to and holding fast by the original standard; taking the Divine word alone for our rule; the Holy Spirit for our teacher and guide, to lead us into all truth; and Christ alone, as exhibited in the word, for our salvation; that, by so doing, we may be at peace among ourselves, follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Thomas Campbell, Declaration and Address from Historical Documents Advocating Christian Union, pp 73-74)

It is easy to see that brother Campbell recognized that the only way to be right with God and to have peace in religion was to “hold fast by the original standard.”

To him, this plea involved three things:

1) Taking the Divine word alone for our rule.

2) The Holy Spirit for our teacher and guide, to lead into all truth.

3) The Christ alone, as exhibited in the word, for our salvation.

He realized that by following this course we could have peace among brethren and holiness in our lives. He also understood the consequences of such a course. He knew that it would demand the “rejecting (of) human opinions and the inventions of men as of any authority, or as having any place in the Church of God.” My friend, what greater plea could ever be made for a return to God’s pattern than this? It was on the basis of this plea that the restoration of New Testament Christianity was accomplished during the 18th century. It was this attitude that said: “We must speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.” Why should anyone want to be strict in their religious attitude? Why demand that people give up their creeds and opinions to return to the Bible? Is there a reason? I believe that there is. In fact, there are several reasons:

The Bible is God’s Revelation to Man

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Here Paul shows conclusively that the scriptures came from God—they are inspired of God. God has breathed into the scriptures making them what they are—the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). He sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles to guide them into all truth (John 16:13). Peter, in later years, said that God had done what was promised: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Paul said that they spoke not in the words of man’s wisdom but in the words of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13).

The Bible, as God’s revelation is complete. It has been “once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). It cannot be added to (Prov. 30:6) nor can we preach any other message (Gal. 1:8-9).

The Bible is a Sufficient Revelation

This has already been proven in the preceding paragraph. Anything that God gives is sufficient to accomplish what he intended. This is why Paul said that we cannot preach any other (Gal. 1:8-9). This is why that he stated that the scriptures “furnish us completely unto every good work.” The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all truth (John 14:13). The Bible contains everything that God wants us to know religiously—anything in the church, government, organization, work, etc. If something is not in the Bible, God did not intend for me to know that in religious practice. Because of this sufficiency, Paul warns against “going beyond that which is written” (Cor. 4:6). John gives us this same warning (2 John 9). Oh, that people today could learn this great lesson. God’s word is all we need. Let us seek the old paths by returning to and holding fast by the original standard.

The Bible is Authoritative

Jesus, who has all authority (Matt. 28:18; 17:5) speaks through the New Testament (Heb. 1:1-2; 10:9-10; John 1:17). This within itself makes the New Testament our sole authority in religious matters. Where shall we go for our doctrine? To the Scriptures for they “are profitable for doctrine.” This means that the Lord has furnished man with everything necessary for him to follow to be saved. This means that no man is capable of writing a creed for people to follow. If man did write one, it would not authoritative and should not be followed. This eliminates our right to practice something simple because we desire it. God’s word includes everything that God wants, and it excludes everything else. There is no other source of authority. This is the reason that we need to return to the “old standard of authority.”

The Bible Can be Understood

Many people today listen to their preachers rather than studying the scriptures because their preachers have been led to believe that they could not understand the Bible. This attitude is the surest way to apostasy that I know. But Paul says that the Bible can be understood: “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:3-4). Noah understood God’s will for him. Naaman could understand what God’s prophet required him to do. When he went away wroth, it was because he did understand it—not because it was incomprehensible. The blind man could understand what Jesus required of him. We today can understand God’s will “when we read.” We can understand the plan of salvation. There is nothing difficult in understanding God’s will concerning baptism. God’s government for his church can be understood. The greatest tragedy in the world and in the church today is that of a lack of understanding; it is that of not following what we do understand. Men want to follow their own way rather than God’s. They answer as did the people of long ago to the prophet: “We will not walk therein.” If we shall determine to follow the “old paths, where is the good way,” we shall then return to the old standard of authority. We shall follow the suggestion made by Thomas Campbell: “…rejecting human opinions and the inventions of men of any authority, or as having any place in the church of God…returning to and holding fast by the original standard.” Let us return to the old paths! Let us follow the Bible!

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Author: Editor

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